“Angels Don’t Have Wings!”


A young boy in the first grade was given the assignment in elementary school to make an ornament for Christmas. A popular way to make an ornament in his day, circa 1963, was to Papier-mâché a soda pop bottle into a holiday character. He decided to make an angel. He spent several days meticulously applying the starchy paste to torn strips of old newspapers. He painted the angel then shellacked it. When at last the “Angel” was complete, he presented his masterpiece to the teacher. She complimented him on his work but then curiously asked him this question. “I see that the Angel doesn’t have any wings. Where are the wings?” “Oh”, exclaimed the little boy, “Angels don’t have wings!” “Really” replied the teacher. “And how do you know that?” The little boy confidently responded, “Because Joseph Smith saw one with his “berry” own eyes!”

I was that little boy and I have a vague memory of the incident. I still have the image in my mind of making that Angel so many years ago. But the exchange between me and my teacher only survives in my memory because my parents recorded me relating the incident on audio tape. I don’t recall why they made the audio tape; perhaps it was for a family home evening. But my mother had me tell the experience in my own words onto the tape down to the memorable “berry own eyes!” Years later I happened to listen to that audio tape so the conversation between me and my teacher was reinforced in my mind. It was my first grade teacher who related the story to my mother. Perhaps she thought it was interesting that I would take such a firm stand on angels without wings.

This story of a young child’s simple faith is compelling to me. And although the story is autobiographical, that little boy is long gone from my life. It just as well could be about some other little boy. But what impresses me about such stories, is that young children seem to express such faith, without thought as to what others might think. I’m sure it never crossed my mind what my teacher might think of me and of my explanation of why angels didn’t have wings. I was just stating a fact, according to my knowledge; and there was no need to hide it. Unfortunately, as we get older we have a tendency to guard what we say regarding our beliefs. Perhaps it is because of bad experiences or maybe it is just laziness on our part. Mostly, I think it is out of fear of rejection. What will people think of us? Jesus taught this:

“…came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 1-4).

“Joseph Smith saw one with his “berry” own eyes!” was the unashamed declaration of my former self. I think that is how the Lord would have me declare it today, at my age, with that kind of clarity. The humility to do so is found so naturally in a small child. Be it bearing testimony of the restoration of the gospel, or of Jesus as the Christ, we should be as little children and “fear not” what others might say. We need not be offensive in our declarations,  just firm. May we have the child like faith and courage to always bear testimony of what we believe to be true! (Looking at Picture: Middle Row far right)


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